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Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback


Professor Richard Gevirtz on heart rate variability (HRV) with MyCalmBeat

Professor of Psychology California School of Professional Psychology Alliant International University, San Diego.
- short version Video (3 Minutes)

Professor Richard Gevirtz on heart rate variability (HRV) with MyCalmBeat.

Training Exercise 1: Stress Management 7 min
Training Exercise 2: Peak Performance 8:29 min
- Long version Video (9:30 Minutes)
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Heart rate variability (HRV) is the normal and healthy variation in the rate at which the heart beats. It is measured using an noninvasive electrocardiogram , (ECG/EKG) or a finger sensor that measures the blood volume pulse (BVP).
HRV is an indicator of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems function and is the strongest single predictor of death after accounting for medications, demographics, and multiple clinical factors.[1]
But it is also used by therapists to synchronize with their patients physiology. Once breathing rates and heart rhythms are coordinated, there is an emotional rapport between people that breaks down barriers in communication.
Low heart rate variability (HRV) is an independent risk factor for sudden cardiac death, all-causes death, and cardiac event recurrence. [2, 3] HRV is defined as the fluctuations in heart rate (HR) from beat-to-beat as measured in milliseconds.
Mounting evidence points to the efficacy of HRV biofeedback for autonomically mediated disorders and for Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, IBS, Anxiety Disorders, Hypertension, and other disorders
HRV can be explained in terms of Stephen W. Porges "Polyvagal Theory" (Porges, 1995)

"The evolution of the autonomic nervous system provides an organizing principle to interpret the adaptive significance of physiological responses in promoting social behavior. According to the polyvagal theory, the well-documented phylogenetic shift in neural regulation of the autonomic nervous system passes through three global stages, each with an associated behavioral strategy.

The first stage is characterized by a primitive unmyelinated visceral vagus that fosters digestion and responds to threat by depressing metabolic activity. Behaviorally, the first stage is associated with immobilization behaviors. The second stage is characterized by the sympathetic nervous system that is capable of increasing metabolic output and inhibiting the visceral vagus to foster mobilization behaviors necessary for 'fight or flight'. The third stage, unique to mammals, is characterized by a myelinated vagus that can rapidly regulate cardiac output to foster engagement and disengagement with the environment.

The mammalian vagus is neuroanatomically linked to the cranial nerves that regulate social engagement via facial expression and vocalization. As the autonomic nervous system changed through the process of evolution, so did the interplay between the autonomic nervous system and the other physiological systems that respond to stress, including the cortex, the hypothalamic_pituitary_adrenal axis, the neuropeptides of oxytocin and vasopressin, and the immune system. From this phylogenetic orientation, the polyvagal theory proposes a biological basis for social behavior and an intervention strategy to enhance positive social behaviour". [4]

[1] Lehrer PM, Sasaki Y, Saito Y. Zazen and cardiac variability. Psychosomc Med 1999;61:812-21.
[2] Kleiger RE, Miller JP, Bigger JT, et al, and the Multicenter Postinfarction Research Group. Decreased heart rate variability and its association with increased mortality after acute myocardial infarction. Am J Cardiol 1987;59:256-62.
[3] Bigger JT, Fleiss JL, Rolnitzky LM, et al. The ability of several shortterm measures of RR variability to predict mortality after myocardial infarction. Circulation 1993;88:927-34.
[4] Porges. S,. The polyvagal theory: phylogenetic substrates of a social nervous system Original Research Article International Journal of Psychophysiology, Volume 42, Issue 2, October 2001, Pages 123-146
Gevirtz, R. (2000). Resonant frequency training to restore homeostasis for treatment of psychophysiological disorders. Biofeedback, 27, 7-9.
Gevirtz, R. (2011). Autonomic nervous system markers for psychophysiological, anxiety, and physical disorders. In E. K. Gordon, S. (Ed.), Integrative neuroscience and personalized medicine (pp. 164-180). Oxford: Oxford Press.

Gevirtz, R., & Lehrer, P. (2003). Resonant Frequency Heart Rate Biofeedback. In M. S. F. Andrasik (Ed.), Biofeedback: A Practitioners Guide (3rd ed.). NY: Guilford. Gevirtz, R. N. (2007). Psychophysiological Perspectives on Stress Related and Anxiety Disorders. In P. Lehrer & W. Sime (Eds.),


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